Guest editorial: The arts breathe life into Park City, but the organizations that provide it are in danger
Park City Summit County Arts Council executive director
The Park City Summit County Arts Council recognizes the severe hardship faced by many; our hearts ache for all that have been affected. We are all inspired by the support this mountain community has shown towards our most vulnerable populations during this crisis, and we applaud everyone for doing their part to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
Locally and globally, we are all faced with the unknown. Many of us are turning to the arts as a coping mechanism, keeping us creatively active during this strange time of isolation.
If you, like me, are longing for the day we can attend the next concert, museum, festival, performance, film screening or art class, I implore you to keep reading. These creative activities are impactful shared experiences. They bind us, making us all more connected.
In solidarity with my colleagues in our local arts and culture sector, please know we also face an increasingly daunting array of challenges and economic strife. The creative sector is hurting. There is fear that some of our local arts and culture nonprofits may not survive this extended period of closed venues and canceled events — all sources of vital earned revenue. The state of our local cultural sector is dire, as recent survey data has revealed sobering results.
In one month, reported Summit County Cultural Sector losses include $3.37 million in total revenues, and 101 local jobs have been impacted, with many more at risk.
In good days, support for arts and culture nonprofits come from an array of funding sources — an ever-changing mix of earned revenue, government support, corporate sponsorships and individual donor contributions. Even small fluctuations in revenue can mean crippling deficits for many organizations. Like many small businesses, these organizations operate with low overhead, and have scant reserves to cover losses as cash disruptions grow such as lost ticket sales, entry fees, cancellation of productions and fundraising galas. Cultivating and retaining donors and corporate sponsors during this time is challenging as investments, endowments and corporate profits decline.
While federal aid allows nonprofits to apply for SBA loans, they simply do not make up for the losses. The federal government allocated $75 million to the National Endowment for the Arts in relief aid for arts and culture nonprofits for the entire nation. This aid is frankly disappointing when you see other governments around the world such as Germany stepping up with a $54 billion package specifically for the country’s creative and cultural sectors, and smaller municipalities such as Berkeley, California, allocating $1 million in relief funding for arts organizations as part of their Emergency Response Ordinance.
Our local arts and culture organizations are working hard to serve our community in remote capacities. Highlights include the Egyptian Theatre’s sneak peak online Follies event on April 24, Mountain Town Music’s Facebook Live nightly performances at 7 p.m., and Park City Film’s virtual viewing program. A full list of locally curated creative virtual experiences can be found on the Arts Council’s calendar.
Art and culture breathes life and soul into our mountain town, and enhances everything we have to offer. It keeps our community colorful, uniquely vibrant and lends to our strong sense of place. It’s also an employer, a critical component to our local economy, and will help us build after this difficult period.
To this end, supporting arts and culture is essential. Our arts and culture nonprofits face hurdles in every direction as they seek funding to retain staff, program for the future and keep operating budgets in the black. Until then, we need your support and ask you to consider a donation to a local arts and culture nonprofit. You can find a list of our local arts nonprofits and easily make a donation at pcscarts.org/donate.
Art connects us. It’s a thread throughout our community. Help us stay connected.
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